Taylor Explores the World

Centro Merida

Walking around Merida is a must for anyone visiting the beautiful “White City”. Downtown the streets are lined with historic buildings, one after another.  Some are beautiful in their simplicity, while others were breathtaking in their intricacy.    Despite the size and population of the city, it is a great place to walk with tons of parks to rest in and plenty to see, do, eat, drink and buy. 

Walking through the different barrios, you quickly see socioeconomic, cultural, historic and ethnic realities unfold with each step.  In the historic centro, palaces and huge colonial buildings look down on you with elaborate facades screaming money and power.  The areas immediately around el centro is where the upper class lived, in fancy French colonial mansions and estates.  

San Juan, another prosperous area, had long smooth stucco fronts accented by many window and doors, many have driveways that originally allowed the effluent’s horse drawn carriage to enter their property, today they work perfectly for their cars.  Huge doors open to beautiful courtyards with fountains, pools and gardens for the family to cool off in.  

San Sebastian, further south, is a working class neighborhood filled with short, narrow cube-like homes whose plain facades mirror all the neighbors bearing only a single door and window.  Paint color and patterns are the only differentiating aspects of the neighborhood homes, here they use paint patterns to elaborate their facades.  Just a couple of examples of the differences you will see when walking around Merida.

Always try to walk on the shaded side of the street, if at all possible, doing so will drastically drop the temperature or you can use an umbrella to shade yourself, like many locals do.   Sometimes the sidewalks are a little sketchy just watch out for potholes and cracks and you will be fine.  Watch out for driveways that angle down toward the road, they can be extremely slippery and if your shoes don’t have tread you can literally slide into the street.  I did this in a cheap pair of sandals, I was walking along hit a down ramp and the next thing I knew I was shooting under a city bus – yes a bus and in a flash, before I could react, I was sliding under it!  Leroy, thank God, grabbed me by my arm as my legs came flying out from under me and saved me from being run over by a bus.  It was an enlightening experience to say the least.  

Navigating most of Merida streets, on foot or by car, becomes easy once you figure out the pattern of the street names.  Odd numbered Calles (streets) run east and west and increase in number as you move west.  Even numbered calles (streets) run north and south and increase in number as you head south.   This really helps you to know what direction to head if you have an address but lack a map.  For example the northeastern most corners of town is Calle 3 and Calle 4 while the southwestern most corners is Calle 195 and Calle 102.   The center of town, Plaza de la Independencia, Grande Plaza, zocalo or el centro is the block surrounded by Calles 60, 61, 62 and 63.  Calle 60 is a northbound one-way, 61 is the westbound, 62 is the southbound and 63 is the eastbound one-way.    



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